GEORGE JONES: The Saga of an American Singer by Bob Allen

GEORGE JONES: The Saga of an American Singer

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This may be the worst written biography in recent memory, but fans of country-music great Jones will gets lots of anecdotal details here--with testimony from family and cronies--about the grisly ups and downs of ""the Possum's"" 35-year career. Born in ""the East Texas boondocks,"" George had an abusive, boozing father--whose behavior may have stemmed in part from the traumatizing death of his oldest child. (""There was something about the sorrow of the wind in the pines and the chill of the dark earth that claimed his daughter that cold winter day that seemed also to drain the strength and hope right out of George Washington Jones."") But young George had his music right from the start, ""like some ancient truth that he was born already knowing."" He grew up on Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe from the Grand Ole Opry radio, sang for pennies on the street, and fell under the spell of Hank Williams before bringing his first honky-tonk recordings to Houston. There, ""slowly but surely, the portals of opportunity were beginning to spread themselves open for the prodigal Southeast Texas singer, just as widely and easily as the supple thighs of the fast and loose women. . . ."" He joined the Opry, had novelty hits (""White Lightning""), then shifted to more soulful, dark ballads. But his offstage life was a shambles in a Nashville of ""booze, biphetamines and bull-shit"": addicted to alcohol and assorted drugs, he went through several wives; he lost his true self during the marriage to Tammy Wynette, who put him in fancy duds and corny arrangements. His career declined, he became ever more violent (arrested once for deadly assault); he refused to open his soul ""to the beckoning luminousness of the face of Jesus""; the ""demons and the snakes refused to sleep, and their horrible writhing. . .""--well you get the idea. And even after a comeback with the morbid ""He Stopped Loving Her Today,"" the ""snakes writhed and the worms turned. . . ."" (As of 1983, with a new marriage, George is still trying to settle down. Despite the almost unprecedented wretchedness of Allen's mixed-metaphor prose: likely to please Jones' following.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday